Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sunflower Redevelopment planning firm dedicated to ‘green design’

July 5, 2007

Sunflower Redevelopment LLC has selected Design Workshop Inc. to do the master plan for future development of the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

Sunflower Redevelopment executive director Kise Randall said Design Workshop was chosen in May after a nationwide search.

"There are many, many things that argue for them," Randall said. "We had many of the top planning firms in the country that applied. We felt they were the best fit for this development.

"A number of firms specialize just in planned communities or new urbanization. They're (Design Workshop) not exclusively that. They have the ability to design mixed-use development."

Design Workshop's Web site identifies the company as an international firm with 10 offices in North and South America, with the closest being in Denver, Colo. Its online design portfolio includes urban projects, college campuses, resorts, parks and regional planning.

The Web site cites the firm's experience in brownfield projects (including the redevelopment of the closed Amoco Refinery in Sugar Creek, Mo.) and the design of new communities. Among those is the Rancho Viego community in Santa Fe, N.M., which at 20,000 acres is twice the size of Sunflower.

The Web site also states the firm's focus is incorporating existing landforms in its planning and a dedication to "green design" and sustainability.

"Environmental concerns have always been center-stage for us. This is not an optional component of our design but essential to each project. In the course of our work, we have found innovative and economically viable solutions to even the most serious environmental challenges," the firm's Web site states.

Sunflower Redevelopment also retained Olsson Associate Consultant Engineers to help with its planning, Randall said. That national firm with two offices in Kansas City will be working with engineer Jim Godwin, the lead engineer in the redevelopment of Stapleton Airport in Denver, the largest urban infill redevelopment in U.S. history.

"We're trying to bring in experienced professional resources in brownfield development," Randall said.

The master plan is to be completed in 14 months, a schedule that will allow Sunflower Redevelopment's partners time to make several business decisions, Randall said. But De Soto residents could see some of the design team's work before that end date

As part of its contract, the firm will look at De Soto south of Kansas Highway 10 that is Sunflower's gateway. There would be opportunities in the coming months for city officials and residents to view what the planners envision for De Soto's side of the street, Randall said.

Although De Soto has no obligation to adopt part or all of any plan Design Workshop develops for the gateway, the city would be foolish not to look at what planners offer, De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle said.

"We would be interested in talking with them about whatever they are doing that impacts the city," he said. "I applaud them in their effort to want to talk with us. I don't think any potential issue was ever resolved without talking."

Sunflower officials have said the master plan would answer questions about who would provide the future development with water, sewer and other utilities. Guilfoyle said that is another area of interest to the city, which owns and operates the old Sunflower well field and water treatment plant on the old plant and just completed a $9 million sewer plant.

"We would entertain discussion to see if there is mutual interest," Guilfoyle said.

An August 2005 agreement transferred Sunflower to the partnership of Kansas City real estate developer Kessinger/Hunter and Co. and Denver-based International Risk Group for its commitment to cleanup the contaminated plant and make public benefit transfers of 3,000 acres to Johnson County Parks and Recreation, Kansas and Kansas State universities, the city of De Soto, and De Soto USD 232.

It was announced last year that Prairie Center Investors LLC -- an entity formed by the Overland Park-based Midland Properties Inc. -- would join the original partners in Sunflower Redevelopment.

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